The 59th International Military Pilgrimage to Lourdes begins like any other trip at an airport as the Tri-service UK Contingent begin their journey. In Lourdes they will be joined by some 20,000 service personnel from around the world for four days of prayer and reflection. It is also a chance to spending time breaking down the barriers of nationalism and language that can so easily divide us. Instead we celebrate that which unites us!
The theme of this year’s pilgrimage is Dona Nobis Pacem (Grant Us Peace). During the Holy Year of 2016 Pope Francis called on Service Personnel to be “instruments of reconciliation, builders of bridges and sowers of peace”.
We ask the Intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes for all those going on the Pilgrimage, for their family, friends, Units, and all those for whom they will pray.
IMP 2017 – Dona Nobis Pacem
Thursday 18 May 17
Like seemingly every Military event the Pilgrimage starts with a Power Point briefing, and each person is given their Pilgrim’s badge and a Rosary.
Friday 19 May 17
The first morning sees the Penitential Service take place, with a chance for Confession or just to talk with a Priest. The origins of the Pilgrimage are in an act of Reconciliation between French and German Catholic soldiers after the First World War. Today we too ask God’s mercy for the times we have not walked in His paths, and we ask for his gift of peace.
On Friday afternoon we march to the Upper Basilica 1400 for the Opening Mass. As well as a great gathering from around the World the Pilgrimage is one of the few places where Chaplains demonstrate their proficiency at drill!
The Day ends with the International Blessed Sacrament Procession and Blessing of the Sick.
Saturday 20 May 17
Bright and early on Saturday morning the Waterloo Band of the Rifles, under its Director of Music Maj Peter Clark, lead the UK contingent as we march to English Speaking Mass at Grotto.
In the afternoon the Band give a Musical Marching Display as the British Contingent holds a Reception at the Hotel.
Sunday 21 May 17
On Sunday we march again to the Upper Basillica for the Closing Mass, when Candles for each of the Services will also be blessed. Later these candles are taken to the Grotto and lit where we think of all those for whom we have prayed. In a special way we remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of peace and humanity. “At the going down of the Sun, and in the morning, we will remember them…..”
Monday 22 May 17
And so the Pilgrimage ends and Lourdes Airport copes with a 400% increase in traffic as we return to our homes and duty stations as instruments of reconciliation, builders of bridges and sowers of peace.
The 2018 Pilgrimage will take place from the Thursday the 17th of May to Monday the 21st of May, It is a special year to consider coming as it is the 60th Anniversary of the First pilgrimage.